Shaker History Tour

This tour features historic sites throughout Shaker Heights and Shaker Square. It provides an overview and introduction to the history of the city and its neighborhoods and is suitable for walking, biking, or driving. It supplements the Bike Shaker 2020: Ride through History developed by the Shaker Historical Society, the City of Shaker Heights Human Relations Taskforce, and the Shaker Heights Development Corporation.

In 1811 Jacob Russell moved his family from their home in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, into the wilderness of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Upon his arrival, Russell purchased 475 acres in Warrensville Township, founded by the Daniel Warren family from Ackworth, New Hampshire, in 1808. Ralph…
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On the north side of South Park Boulevard, just east of Lee Road, there is a solitary grave which is the final resting place of an American Revolutionary War soldier--Jacob Russell. Next to the grave is a large stone with a bronze plaque commemorating Russell's life. The plaque, placed there…
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On September 21, 1948, the Shaker Historical Society commemorated its one-year anniversary with the unveiling of a bronze plaque on the S.W. corner of Lee Road and Shaker Boulevard to mark the location of the Center Family of the North Union colony of Shakers. Five years later, a Shaker gate that…
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In 1852, the North Union Shakers dammed Doan Brook for the second time, generating power for a new woolen mill and creating what would later become known as Horseshoe Lake. The new dam symbolized the continued growth of the North Union community, which was founded in 1822. The Shakers had…
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Opened on April 11, 1920, the Lynnfield passenger station was constructed as the final stop along the South Moreland (now Van Aken) line of the Cleveland Interurban Railroad in Shaker Village. Besides a few homes located in the vicinity along Kinsman Road and Center Road, the area was completely…
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In the late 1920s, Winslow Road was referred to as "the street of the brides" by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, as it "attracts more newly married couples of social prominence than any other street in Greater Cleveland." A 1929 article about life on Winslow Road described the…
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“Entering Apartheid Shaker: Home of Barricades” was the message commuters read as they drove under a large banner while entering Shaker Heights along the Cleveland border in September of 1990. The banner was put up by Cleveland city councilman Charles Patton, who stated that “if the Berlin Wall can…
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The creation of public spaces in the Moreland neighborhood has been both a point of collaboration and contention between local residents and the City of Shaker Heights since the 1960s. The efforts of Moreland Community Association in advocating for the development of Chelton Park set a precedent of community involvement in park building activities which lives on to this day.


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In the late 1950s, the Shaker Historical Society undertook the daunting task of creating a memorial marker to tell the story of a small unmarked burial ground commonly referred to as the "Lee Road Cemetery" or the "Old Manx Cemetery." This graveyard, located at 3451 Lee Road,…
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From its founding, Shaker Village was planned as a highly-regulated residential district. Promotional literature distributed by the Van Sweringen Co. offered prospective land buyers the security of a community that existed outside the influence of the urban environment. A strictly defined and…
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William J. Van Aken (1884-1950) served as Mayor of Shaker Heights from 1915 until his death in 1950, overseeing its transition from rural farmland to one of the nation's wealthiest and most well-regarded suburbs. The opening of a new city hall in 1930 symbolized a turning point in this…
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In March 1850, just months months before passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, thirty members of Cleveland's Old Stone Church left their congregation to form what would later become Plymouth Church. The debate over slavery -- illegal in Ohio, but still a major source of conflict -- led to this…
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Shaker Square is neither located in Shaker Heights nor shaped like a square, but ask for directions to the coffee shop at "Cleveland Octagon" and you'll most likely receive only confused looks in return. Shaker Square has always been shaped like an octagon. The original plan did…
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On a July night in 1921, a group of "Cleveland hoodlums" fought with members of the Shaker Heights Police Department after being ordered out of Lower Shaker Lake. The young men were not happy about being told that they could not swim in the lake at night. In the ensuing scuffle, the…
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Beginning in the late 1950s, the City of Shaker Heights took a number of actions designed to keep the Moreland neighborhood's historic shopping center at the intersection of Chagrin Boulevard and Lee Road vibrant and a favored place for Shaker Heights shoppers. Among these were renaming it Shaker Town Center in 1984 and promoting it as the city's downtown shopping district. But what…
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The Shaker Lakes are man-made bodies of water created by the North Union Shaker Community in the mid-nineteenth century to power a series of mills. When the Shakers left and their lands became part of the suburb of Shaker Heights, the lakes remained, becoming the focal point of a series of parks.…
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